As with any container, the proper size is critical. Bush beans need about six or seven inches of soil depth, while pole beans need eight to nine. If your pots are deeper, that’s even better. Be sure pots for pole beans have a broad base to decrease the risk of tipping. You can also use rectangular or square containers.
Choosing Beans for Containers
Some beans are known to do better than others in containers. They include:
- Kentucky Wonder – available as a pole or bush bean.
- Blue Lake – the pole type does well in containers.
- Top Crop – an heirloom bush bean.
- Delinel – a dwarf bean bred for containers.
- Dwarf Purple Teepee – purple beans on a small plant.
Make sure your soil is rich and friable but not too high in nitrogen. Excess nitrogen will promote lots of leaf growth, but fewer flowers and pods. Use commercial potting soil or mix it half and half with your garden soil. Add aged manure, well-rotted leaf mold or compost for extra humus. You may need to add 5-10-10 fertilizer for pole beans.
Spacing and Depth
It’s best to calculate your plantings by figuring on nine bean plants for each 12 square inches of container space, or four inches between plants. Remember your pole beans will need supports, so if you put a pole in the pot, that uses up space. Place the pole before planting the beans. Plant beans about one to one-and-a-half inches deep and firm soil well over the beans.
Beans need the equivalent of one inch of water per week; that’s the minimum amount. Water until you see water coming out of the drainage holes. The pots or containers should drain well. Unglazed clay pots will help prevent wet feet by promoting evaporation of excess water. Check the soil daily – if it’s dry at one inch below the surface, you should water.
Make it Decorative
In addition to providing you with food, beans in containers can be very decorative. Those with red flowers (runner beans) will also attract hummingbirds. Try planting two large pots on each side of a door next to a trellis that spans the door frame. The beans will also provide some shade for the doorway. Bush beans can also be planted in a window box.